Global Trends by Martin Khor
Monday 11 October 2010
Slow progress at latest climate talks
Huge rainfalls causing floods narrowly missed
the climate change negotiators who met for another round of talks in
The 3,000 participants were impressed by the warm hospitality, courteous volunteers and the giant convention centre with super facilities. The Chinese put 2,000 people on the job to handle the logistics, and the meetings went on without a hitch.
But as the Chinese chief negotiator, Su Wei, reminded
everyone in the closing session on 9 October, it could have been very
different. The first site that
Since 30 September, the island has been lashed with the heaviest rainfall since 1961, causing 1,200 villages to be submerged by floodwaters, with 1.6 million people affected and 210,000 evacuated.
“If our meeting had been held in
Climate change may indeed have contributed to
Indeed, throughout the week's meeting, many developing countries' delegates referred to the many extreme weather events that have caused devastating damage in many countries this year, a clear sign that the climate crisis is not a science-fiction scenario but a reality that is now upon us and will get much worse.
Consider that today the world is 0.8 degrees celsius warmer on average than in pre-industrial times, and at current emissions rates the temperature will rise by 4 degrees or more, with devastating effects like the melting of ice caps and sea-level rise causing extensive flooding, and glacier melting causing water shortages in many countries.
Even restricting warming to 2 degrees, which is the target the political leaders agreed to, would result in a lot of damage. Some prominent scientists and many countries are asking for a goal of 1.5 degrees.
Drafting groups were formed to discuss the various main issues, but most of them were distracted by yet new texts or papers put forward by facilitators, only some of which were based on the existing draft.
The buzz-word at the meeting was the need to attain “balance” among the issues being negotiated, but there were different views on what this means. To the developing countries, the main stumbling block is the reluctance of many developed countries to commit themselves to deep cuts in emission reductions.
Worse, it seems that many of the developed countries in the Kyoto Protocol (only the United States is not a member) do not want to continue being in it.
Under the KP, the developed countries agreed to cut their combined emissions by 5% by 2012 compared to 1990 levels, and then to negotiate new emission reduction rates in a second period starting 2013.
The KP group, meeting in
Within this combined target, each developed country would then make a commitment which is adequate. All these national commitments must add up to the aggregate.
The problem is that many of the developed countries
want to “jump ship” from the KP to a new agreement, which includes the
According to the pledges already made, the developed
countries altogether (including the
The biggest battle in the negotiations is over the model of the developed countries' emission-reduction commitments – whether the KP model of legally binding aggregate figure with adequate national reductions, or the voluntary pledge system with no aggregate number and no system of ensuring adequate numbers for each country.
This has caused the developing countries to accuse them of intending to kill the KP, the only legally-binding climate-change agreement. With this development, the developing countries find it outrageous that the developed countries are insisting that they agree to an intrusive system of international “monitoring and verification” of their mitigation actions.
The good news coming from
But even here there is a cloud. The
“It is disconcerting that the setting up of a fund is held hostage to other things,” said Desima Williams on behalf of small island states. “It's unethical.”